The beauty of winter is its sleeping, covered in blankets of snow. God's creation bedded down to rest; the tale of endings; whispers of beginnings; quietness and cold; with life's spark as enclosed as the fire of the hearth inside the closed and curtained homestead.

the blue light of winter
winter's woods,

The Beauties of Winter

You fixed all the limits of the earth; Summer and Winter You made.
Psalms 74:17

Winter came down to our home one night
Quietly pirouetting in on silvery-toed slippers of snow,
And we, we were children once again.

~Bill Morgan Jr

I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech-tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines.
~Henry David Thoreau

More wintry poetry and prose.

A Few of My Favorite Things

Winter is cold crispy snow; it is blustering wind and creaking house walls; it is crackling fires and wood-smoke on the air; it is frost sparkled windows and dark leaden skies.

Winter with heavy evergreen brightness and light crystal blue afternoons; it is warm soups on the stove and spicy cakes with coffee;  it is Christmas;  it is New Years;  it is slow days within ones house.

Bright rosy children's cheeks and red noses to match; it is planning; it is silence; it is bundles of woolen frumpiness and braveness of boots.

Winter is spicy curries and stews; deep reds and dark blues; hot tea and cookies; the radiant heat of a stove.

Flurried whiteness and gentle star dusted nights; It is hidden and secret; plain, stark and austere. It is contrast and seamless binding of earth, water, and air. It is surprisingly bright berries and visiting birds. Winter's wonder is in its editing and the force of its emphasis. Perhaps that is what makes it a time of illuminations.

The Garden in Winter

What makes the garden beautiful in winter? Its structure, or bones, and its exclamation points of surprise. The bones of a garden are there year round with paths and walls, hedgings and trees. but it is the exclamation points of twisted or brightly colored twigs,  of berries and seed heads catching the frosts that create the artistry of winter. Some favorite things are the spiraling branches of Harry Lauders Stick (Corylus avellana 'Contorta'). One of my special delights in winter is the Firethorn or Pyracantha growing against the house with branches of berries spread for birds feasting. And as long as the bright orange of the berries holds true it is a beautiful frame for whatever the day's scene presents through that window.

10 Deciduous Winter Feature Plants

Garden chores

Winter begins with the winter solstice, around December 22 includes January, February and March

Prune where necessary. Winter is a good time to prune.
Heel in plants. Sometimes plants heave out of the ground during the freeze and thaw cycle. Walk around the garden and push them in with your heel and perhaps protect with extra mulch. I have a page of winter garden tips for more information.

Tend indoor plants. This is the time to check on those plants you potted for winter or stored in the basement. They shouldn't dry out. Those growing as houseplants, and houseplants in general, should be fertilized lightly and given proper water.  Soon it will be time to start new plants for Spring!

Send for Catalogs.My "about catalogs" page is helpful Does this qualify as a chore? Stock up for the gardener's favorite pastime of perusing catalogs and making the plant purchase list for next seasons garden. Learn more about the plants you have, and order those that fit your plan and garden.

Wood burning stoves not only keep you cozy, but are a good supply of woodash. Wood ash helps to fertilize the garden, but it is alkaline in effect. So remember to use on plants that tolerate higher pH. It can be mixed into compost or sprinkled on the vegetable garden.


Poems in Old English

Myrie it is whil somer ylast
Wyth foweles song;
But now neigheth wyndes blast
And weder strong.
Ei! Ei! What, this nyght is long,
And I wyth wel muchel wrong
Sorwe and murne and faste.

Wynter wakeneth al my care;
Now thise leves waxen bare.
Ofte I sike and murne sare
Whan it cometh in my thought
Of this worldes joye, how it goth al to noght.

Now it is and now it nis,
Also it ner nere , y-wis.
That many man seyth, sooth it is--
Al goth but Goddes wille;
Alle we shullen deye,
thogh us like ille .

Al that greyn me graveth grene,
Now it faleweth al bidene .
Jhesu, help that it be sene,
And shilde us from Helle;
For I not whider I shal, ne how long heer dwelle.

Winter Joys: From Within

Feeding Birds is always a wonderful extension of the pastime of bird watching. If your garden has bountiful berries, this will attract birds. And those bright berries punctuating the bleakness of winter's landscape is one joy in itself.
There are often different bird species to enjoy in the winter season. A bird guide book can help identify them. You may discover different feeding patterns and preferences for supplying your bird feeders. One can enjoy nature just from ones window and be a blessing to some of the smaller creatures. What better joy?

Seeking the Giving Spirit Don't let the sparks of Christmas giving die with the onset of mid-winter. Review your opportunities to share with those less fortunate. Few are so without resource that they may not share something... even their smiles or encouragements, with someone in need. Review charities, regard the day, instead of only seizing for yourself. Let winter be your planning time for cultivating this throughout your year.
Restful joys, allow for them to infuse your life now. Take time for a good book and a cup of hot tea. Gather together for some coffee and a best friend or two. Write your letters, and paint your pictures, finish your craft project, whatever is creative and restful and can light dark days and long nights.
Light your candles and let the winter emphasize the warmth and beauty, the coziness and intimacy of the focus of candle's light on the details of the winter world.
Force bulbs, Hyacinth, Paper white Narcissus, and Lily of the valley, into bloom indoors. Use a shallow bowl of water filled with pebbles, or in pots with potting soil.  How-to's for forcing bulbs. More on forcing bulbs

Winter gift plants may be kept blooming with proper care. Cyclamen needs to be kept cool and evenly moist with good light. Poinsettias should be kept moist, but don't overwater, they like light and warmth. Cyclamens and Christmas cactus are worth keeping, but the Poinsettias are a waste of time in my opinion. If you want to try, here are the directions.


Winter Joys: From Without

Walk in the snow. Visit your favorite hiking trails in the parks,cross-country ski. Would you like information oninformation on winter animals?

Pick a garden chore, wait for an accommodating day and accomplish it.

Examine snowflakes, snowflakes are so much more than something to shovel out of the way.

Choose the right Snowshoe,Chippewa Nature Center pdf file, for snow hiking.

books to inspire

Activities with Snowflake Bentley book

Gathering evergreens, seed heads and berried branches for indoor arrangements and wreaths for the holidays is lovely. They can be kept in a cool place and then put together while the enjoying the memory of that outdoor walk. Pine and fir branches, teasle heads, grass seedheads, winding vine branches, bittersweet berries, all are useful.

Four silent things: the falling snow, thought, the hour before dawn, and destiny.-Author unknown

When the Year Grows Old
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I cannot but remember
When the year grows old--
How she disliked the cold!

She used to watch the swallows
Go down across the sky,
And turn from the window
With a little sharp sigh.

And often when the brown leaves
Were brittle on the ground,
And the wind in the chimney
Made a melancholy sound,

She had a look about her
That I wish I could forget--
The look of a scared thing
Sitting in a net!

Oh, beautiful at nightfall
The soft spitting snow!
And beautiful the bare boughs
Rubbing to and fro!

But the roaring of the fire,
And the warmth of fur,
And the boiling of the kettle
Were beautiful to her!

I cannot but remember
When the year grows old --
October -- November --
How she disliked the cold!

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